The Top 5 George Carlin Standup Specials
Legendary comic George Carlin filmed over a dozen standup specials over his 50-year career—we’ve picked five of our favorites.
What took so long? HBO’s new two-part documentary George Carlin’s American Dream, produced by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, covers the legendary counterculture comedian’s career from the ’60s up to his death in 2008.
In that time, Carlin recorded over a dozen standup specials for HBO, including 2008’s It’s Bad for Ya, which was televised live just four months before he died. To coincide with George Carlin’s American Dream, we’ve collected five of our favorite Carlin standup specials, all of which are available on-demand through free streaming services.
George Carlin: Jammin’ in New York | The Roku Channel, Tubi
Jammin’ in New York, filmed in 1992 at the Paramount Theater, was Carlin’s personal favorite of his standup specials. Topics in Jammin’ in New York include the Persian Gulf war, airport announcements, and this assessment of climate change: “The planet is fine . . . the people are f**ked!”
George Carlin: Life is Worth Losing | Pluto TV, Tubi
Broadcast live from New York’s Beacon Theater on the eve of Carlin’s 50th year in showbiz in 2005, Life is Worth Losing was also his first post-rehab special. As the title suggests, Life is Worth Losing is a dark and introspective set, as much end-times philosophy as it is comedy.
George Carlin: Complaints & Grievances | Pluto TV, Tubi
Recorded in 2001 at the Beacon Theater in New York, Carlin’s wide-ranging Complaints & Grievances was originally to be titled I Kind of Like It When a Lot of People Die (yes, really). The special concludes with Carlin editing the “bloated” 10 Commandments down to an essential three.
George Carlin: You Are All Diseased | Pluto TV, Tubi
In 1999’s You Are All Diseased, Carlin took aim at Harley-Davidson, the House of Blues, cigars, and “man stuff” in general, his regular staples of business and religion, and the insidious evils of advertising (ouch—but yeah, we get it). You Are All Diseased is an angry set, but Carlin still pulls the laughs.
George Carlin: George’s Best Stuff | Pluto TV, Tubi
Like a greatest hits album, 1995’s George’s Best Stuff compiles 90 minutes of Carlin’s best-known standup bits, including “A Place for My Stuff,” “Dogs and Cats,” “Al Sleet the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman,” and the infamous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” George’s Best Stuff is a perfect starting point for Carlin newbies.